Queer Luxuries

Suze Ormann, The Lesbian High Priestess of Finance urges us all to have “the courage to be rich” (!) but let’s face it; courage is probably not going to propel most of us down the yellow-brick road to wealth in today’s world of vast economic inequalities.

I actually have one of Suze’s books sitting on my desk, her gleaming white smile reminding me that financial freedom is just around the corner if only I could get my shit together and actually do one single thing she recommends!* But it’s all so desperately dreary. Debt, savings, retirement, insurance, wills. There’s a reason I didn’t go to law school, clearly!

Perhaps because of my own less than stellar record with regard to financial (a-hem) planning, The Advocate’s Oct. 21 cover story, “The Cost of Being Gay,” caught my eye. With the economy bottoming out, author John Cloud asks, can you afford to be gay? Cloud’s lead-in: “We all agree that sexual orientation isn’t just about whom you sleep with but how much of your identity is tied up in the things you have to buy (not to mention the price you’re willing to pay for them).” Read the rest of the article here. And surprise! The cover image is a photo of a white gay man. Who could have predicted it?

Given the recent posts I’ve read on several sites (my own included) about ways to be frugal and fabulous, I think a lot of us are asking these questions and trying to reconsider the consumer-oriented definition of being gay/queer/lesbian that, quite frankly, magazines like The Advocate have been promoting ever since I can remember.

Is queerness a luxury accessory to be bought and sold?
Does wealth/racial/gender privilege transform ordinary homos into A-list power gays or uber queers?
Do these issues play out differently for gays and lesbians, butches and femmes?
What’s a progressively-minded and fashion-forward femme to do???

*A Note, Genteel Reader:
Yes, Sublimefemme really does curse like a sailor. In the future, I will make every effort to restrict my profane outbursts to desperate situations only–animal cruelty, shoe envy, and beauty products confiscated at airport security checks.

Sublimefemme Tells All, No. 7

Always look for new and unexpected ways to incorporate glitter into your wardrobe.

Sublimefemme's Favorite Glitter Peep-Toe Slingback

Sublimefemme's Favorite Glitter Peep-Toe Slingback

Lindsay Lohan, Open Secrets and the “Post-Gay” Closet


The always-insightful Ms. S of Dorothy Surrenders has persuasively argued that the media buzz around Lindsay Lohan and Sam Ronson will drop off because, now that the couple is finally, irrefutably out of the closet, their relationship is, well, boring.

We all know that the gears of the media machine are propelled by unconfirmed rumors and scandal, not domestic bliss. Which reminds me of Tolstoy’s famous line in Anna Karenina: “happy families are all alike.” It may be a sign of “progress” that queer families are being assimilated into this land of shiny happy sameness. Still, for me it’s a sad statement that most of us find love and happiness to be something of a yawner.

Ms. Snarker zeroes in on an important point in her post: Lindsay’s coming-out process is compelling precisely because it represents a younger generation’s take on being gay. It is, in a word, casual. Even–dare I say it?–“post-gay.” Does this no-biggie attitude “mirror that of so many young gay or questioning women today”, as Ms. Snarker suggests? I’m not sure, since Lindsay’s wealth, celebrity and power seem to me to put her in a Sapphic league of her own (or a very elite one, anyway). Are you a young LGBTQ person, open-minded heterosexual, or someone who doesn’t label your sexuality? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this question.

Which brings me to the a-ha moment I want to share with you:

After all this time and two of my own previous posts on Lindsay Lohan, I finally realize why I’ve been so fascinated by this story. Lindsay’s coming out makes visible a new “post-gay” closet, one that’s built on the premise that she’s been hiding in plain sight all along.

We’ve moved yet another step away from queerness as “the love that dares not speak its name.” Who knows, we may soon discover that the power of open secrets, like Lindsay’s, will usher in a new love that won’t shut up.

Paul Newman: In Memoriam

My Interview with LaurynX, Femme Perfume Goddess (Part 2)

In between massages and mani-pedis at the spa, the lovely LaurynX and I managed to squeeze in time for the second part of our interview. I pulled out my tape recorder while we relaxed over a leisurely lunch of tomato-basil bisque, grilled salmon, and arugala salad. Did I mention the wine? We had a few glasses, but who’s counting? Since this was a day of indulgence, we ended our meal with decadent chocolate desserts. (Sure, sorbet is “refreshing” but chocolate is almost always better.) Glowing and relaxed from her hot stone massage, LaurynX was eager to get back to our discussion of perfumery. And so, you’ll see, was I.


SF: What do you wear when you want to seduce a lover? And what fragrances make you weak in the knees?

LX: Shalimar! Masterpiece! I really, really love it, especially in the highest parfum concentration. It just oozes sexy jazz bar and evening candlelight. It’s lemon confection, creamy vanilla, and sultry smoke all wrapped up into one! I also like the dark leather and myrrh-incense of Madame X from Ava Luxe. Fragrances that would make me go weak…well, it’s definitely not Old Spice or Axe. (shudders) I like Davidoff’s Cool Water; I dream to smell Bvlgari Black on a lover. (double swoon!)

SF: I’m glad you mentioned Bvlgari Black since it’s designed “for men and women.” Personally, I have a gender inclusive approach to perfume and cologne. Do you think fragrances have genders?

LX: No, especially since I wear Bvlgari Black. That’s how I know I like it! Perfumistas don’t restrict themselves. They may say one scent is more masculine or feminine due to personal perception, but gender in perfume is purely a marketing thing.

SF: Good to know! By the way, I recently ordered samples of a few perfumes to try—Bvlgari Black because I think it’s sooo sexy on you, and also Gucci Eau de Parfum II and Dior Midnight Poison. I admit it, I’m addicted to florals but I’m trying to expand my horizons a little. So, how did I do with my choices?

LX: Black is a chypre, Gucci II is a fruity-floral (that’s been a very popular category in designer fragrances since the 90s), and the Dior is a floral-oriental …Well, at least you’re trying that chypre! (laughs) I’m just kidding. Being more drawn to one fragrance family or another isn’t bad. I have zero faves from the citrus category. The people who really need to expand their horizons? Those folks who own that one “signature scent.” (You know who you are!) Why? There’s too much out there. Besides, do you want to smell the same on the job and going to a funeral and making love? It may be comforting, but Obsession does not transfer to all environments.

SF: So true! (laughs) What are the basics you think a fragrance newbie should know before going shopping?

LX: Hmm…*do* know that the perfume counter salespersons don’t know anymore about fragrance than you do. They are only there to sell you what came out last week. There is no pressure to buy! You must sit with a fragrance for at least a day. It may be calling your name in the first hour, but after that you could realize it turns sour on you. Don’t wear anything scented (soap, lotion, etc.) when going to test, and don’t test more than about five in a day. You’re nose can’t tell the difference accurately after that. Next, don’t plan to look in just one place, shop around! There are different types of perfumes such as designer, niche, vintage, and exclusive. So some older Diors are found exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue only. Other designer perfumes like Prada and Armani can easily be found at most stores selling perfume. Vintage perfumes are old and/or discontinued loves. Niche means small scale production, with prices ranging from very affordable to outrageous.

SF: Are perfumes connected to emotional or sexual experiences for you? Do they remind you of how you felt during a certain period in your life, for instance? And if so, what’s your favorite scent memory?

LX: I can’t say that I have a favorite scent memory…yet.(winks) My perfume hobby is relatively new. I will say though that Avon fragrances I will always associate with my childhood—I liked Sweet Honesty. Pleasures, White Linen, Beautiful, all by Estee Lauder, remind me of my mother.

SF: Funny, Estee Lauder perfumes remind me of my grandmother! Do you feel more femme wearing certain perfumes?

LX: I do actually have a “Femme Anthem” perfume. That is Lipstick Rose by Frederic Malle. It’s reminiscent of old school makeup—you know violet scented face powder and the sweet waxy smell of lipstick. Fracas by Piguet is a potent tuberose floral. It slaps you in the face being feminine and perfumey to the extreme!

SF: Hmm…so I guess you’re saying that you personally have high femme experience of this fragrance, which isn’t the same thing as saying that the perfume itself has one unchanging gender, right?

LX: Correct. Fragrance is all about personal experience. It’s funny ’cause many times in fragrance discussions, a woman will say she’s “butching it up” when she’s wearing say, Bandit (marketed towards women, and considered “dykey”, yes that exact word), and femme-ing it up to wear Insolence. In formal industry speak there is feminine, masculine, and unisex. So do you feel like being an uber-feminine femme or a dandy butch today?

SF: OK, last question. Can fragrance make someone more beautiful?

LX: I think fragrance enhances who you already are or especially how you already feel. It can convey a vibe you want to give off. So if you’ve got on a cologne/perfume that you think smells sexy on you, then you’re more apt to act how you feel—and people pick up on that.

The Interview’s Over, Now It’s Your Turn!

We want to know: What are your favorite fragrances? Do you have a “Femme Anthem” (or “Butch Anthem”) fragrance? Where do you like to buy your fragrances: department stores, Bath and Body Works, online? Do you swap on MakeupAlley.com? What scents are sexy to you?

You can visit LaurynX at A_Femme_Fluff_Blog

With Thanks, from Sublimefemme

To LaurynX: Interviewing you was a sublime experience! You’ll always be my favorite Perfumista! xoxo Sf

My Interview with LaurynX, Femme Perfume Goddess (Part 1)

Perfume, in my opinion, isn’t just a beauty essential; it’s therapy in a bottle. My favorites have an incredibly uplifting effect on me—just a spritz does wonders to get my day (or night) started right! I recently put on my beauty reporter hat (a very cute, vintage find) to interview the brilliant and lovely LaurynX, femme perfume goddess and all-around fragrance connoisseur. The interview began in the morning when I picked her up in a town car I hired for the occasion, and continued at my favorite day spa where we experienced that little slice of femme heaven called the day of beauty. (Sigh) What a perfect day!

* * * *

Walking towards the Lincoln as the driver pulls up to the curb, LaurynX looks like a girl who has mastered the art of the tease. She’s wearing dark wash skinny jeans, big gold hoop earrings and a gorgeous satin halter that has cascading ruffles at the bust and ties in a bow around her neck. With just a hint of lip gloss and her fierce and curly Afro, she manages to look stylish without seeming like she’s trying too hard. Her effortlessly cool vibe and confident, drag femme attitude is an irresistible combination. After I compliment her style, Lauryn confides to me that she sees herself as the unlikely lovechild of Erykah Badu and Ru Paul. No wonder I adore her!

Sipping our lattes, we start the interview right away, and you—lucky readers—get to come along for the ride!

SF: First, I have to say, you smell A-mazing! (She swoons) What are you wearing?

LX: (Blushes) Thank you! Lately I’ve been craving my spicy-rose-tobacco, so Fifi Chachnil it is! It’s an amazing pin-up fragrance from a French lingerie designer. It’s a modern take on a previous generation.

SF: Oh my God! You must have admirers throwing themselves at your feet because you’re beyond sexy! Seriously, I’m utterly charmed.

LX: Haha, you’re the first to say so! Most folks don’t say anything about my perfumes, unless I ask. Then it’s like I’m fishing for compliments. Completely pointless! But if someone I like admires my scent, then I am beyond flattered.

SF: One of my most vivid and happiest memories as a child is going shopping with my grandmother, who loved perfume. She adored beauty and glamour but had very little money to spend on herself, so perfume was a luxury she couldn’t afford. When we were in a department store, she always stopped at counters to try fragrances and get free samples, and she encouraged me to try perfumes with her. After that, I was hooked. How did you come to love and appreciate perfume?

LX: Ooo, I’m so glad you asked! I was walking in the mall with some friends and spied a tester of Chanel No.5. I remembered it being the famed perfume Marilyn Monroe wore, and since I’d just discovered my Femme ID and heavily associated it with retro glamour…I spritzed some on. …(humph) Well let’s just say I was disappointed. Looking back I see I didn’t know anything about letting it sit on my skin for a while because later that evening I couldn’t stop sniffing my myself, haha! It was love. (smiles)

SF: I love Chanel’s fragrances, too, including the newer ones like Chance. And I find Allure Homme totally irresistible (fanning herself). I think lots of us love fragrance but are overwhelmed by the bizillion perfumes and colognes on the market, with more coming out every day. What’s the best way to choose a perfume or cologne?

LX: Oh gosh (rolls eyes) don’t get me started about the 800 fragrances that came out last year. It’s ridiculous! No one can test that many. The best way to choose a perfume/cologne is to have a strategy. You can try to look for one that captures a “mood”, you can seek out “classics”, you can start with a certain “family” that has descriptions that sounds good to you. Be familiar with scent families. Fifi Chachnil for example is an Oriental. Orientals are known for having amber, resins(myrrh, opoponax, benzoin), and vanilla as bases, very warm, rich, sensual. Many say they are best for evening, though it’s not a rule. Look online for perfume communities and blogs and search for posts about “classics”…and classics can be from today or yesteryear. It simply means well-loved and of good quality. Oh, and don’t take the flowery descriptions in perfume ads at face value.

Tune in tomorrow for the second part of my delicious interview with LaurynX!

Lindsay, Sam and My Gay Happily Ever After

First, the gossip, in case you haven’t already heard. It’s official; Lindsay Lohan has come out about her relationship with girlfriend Samantha Ronson!

First, there’s Exhibit A, an interview in the upcoming October issue of Marie Claire, in which La Lohan talks frankly about Ronson and rehab. And more significantly, there’s Exhibit B, the recent interview on the radio show “Loveline.” (It’s on YouTube if you want to listen.) Sam called in to talk about the plane crash involving friends DJ-AM and Travis Barker. The host, Stryker, who referred to Linsday as Sam’s “ladyfriend,” also had an opportunity to speak with Linsay, who jumped on the call after Sam.

Stryker asked Lindsay how long she and Sam have been dating, and Lindsay responded “a very long time.” After congratulating her, Stryker went on to say, “I hope you guys stay together. You’re a very lovely looking couple.” Lindsay’s retort? A ladylike “thank you very much.”

“I hope you guys stay together”–????

Stryker seems like a good guy and I think his interview was, overall, very gay positive, but I just have to register my dismay at this one particular comment, which subtly implies that they might break up or could break up–otherwise, why would he say “I hope you guys stay together?” Maybe he would have said this to a straight celebrity couple, but I doubt it. I think we all know that Sam and Lindsay *have* indeed been together for quite some time, which makes the comment that much more puzzling.

It might seem like I’m being hypercritical here, especially when Stryker so clearly intended to be supportive to Lindsay and Sam. But his comment, however well-meaning, does reflect cultural stereotypes about how gay/lesbian/queer relationships are often viewed as inevitably short-term. Those promiscuous gays and their “alternative lifestyles!” It’s not easy for LGBTQ people to settle down and lively happily ever like our straight friends (not thay they do, but that’s another issue!). Actually, one of the great things about the media coverage of Ellen Degenerous and Portia de Rossi’s wedding is that it seemed refreshingly free of such insinuations/stereotypes.

This is an issue that I’m somewhat sensitive about, I admit. Over the years, I’ve seen the jaws of straights and queers alike drop when I tell them how long I’ve been with my partner. I remember one progressive straight friend actually marveling at the fact that my relationship has lasted longer than *any* of his marriages!!

There is such a thing as a gay happily after. I’m lucky enough to be living it.

True Confessions: I Heart Teaching

Even on my bad days–when I’m frustrated by naughty students who obviously haven’t done their reading or feeling less than inspired–even on those days, I can’t help but fall in love with teaching the minute I enter a classroom. I almost always leave class feeling more energized than when I entered it, not only because I appreciate the intellectual exchange that happens in my classrooms but also because I genuinely love opening up new worlds to students. I’ve taught for many years and I can honestly say that I’m still delighted when I look out into the classroom and see students looking back with bright eyes, their faces illuminated in that moment when new ideas seem to suddenly take flight.

Really good teaching, according to Mark Edmundson, is “about not seeing the world the way that everyone else does. Teaching is about being what people are now prone to call ‘counterintuitive’ but to the teacher means simply being honest… Good teachers perceive the world in alternative terms, and they push their students to test out these new, potentially enriching perspectives.”

In my view, being a good teacher means asking hard questions and refusing to accept easy answers. We–and I say we because I’m proud of being a good teacher–challenge our students to approach issues and problems from new angles. In other words, we encourage queer ways of seeing.

So, you’re wondering, what do I teach? Sublime Femmeness, of course!

Frugal and Fabulous

These are hard times, my pretties, but don’t despair! Just because the economy is in a tailspin doesn’t mean your beauty regime has to be in one too. Here are a few of my favorite ways to be beautiful on a budget:

1. Make your own Sea Salt Body Scrub. This scrub is great on the whole body as well as feet and hands. You can buy the ingredients at any natural foods store.
1/2 Sea Salt
1/2 Hain Pure Vegetable Oil with Vitamin E (to preserve freshness)
Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. I *love* lemongrass.

2. Best buy: Covergirl Aqua Smooth or Advance Radiance Compact MakeUp ($8.99 – $10.99). They’re knock offs of Vincent Longo’s wonderful Water Canvas Creme-to-Powder Foundation ($52.50). I use and love both! Just make sure you apply the Covergirl with a foundation brush (rather than the sponge they include in the compact) to mimic the lighter, natural look of the Water Canvas. Always close the compact completely so the makeup doesn’t dry out. You just saved $40!

3. Make your own La Dolce Vita Lashes. These lashes, also by Vincent Longo, are great because they’re smaller than regular false lashes, making them both natural-looking and easy to apply. But they’re also pricey ($14!). So, instead of spending your hard-earned money on them, buy a pair of inexpensive Ardell lashes at Sally Beauty (I like the Demi Luvies in black) and cut off the inner third of the lash with an small pair of scissors. Voilà, you’re fabulous and frugal!

4. Make your own lash separator. Just clean off an old mascara wand and you’re ready to go. It works better and is easier to use than any tool you’d buy, I swear.

What are your frugal femme tips? Please share!

PS Check out this week’s Drugstore Deals and Steals at Blogdorf Goodman.

Sublimefemme Tells All, No. 6

In times of crisis, nap.

Marilyn Monroe by Cecil Beaton, 1956

Marilyn Monroe by Cecil Beaton, 1956